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A hankering for particular foods is not linked to any obvious nutrient insufficiency. But other biological factors appear to be at work.
Researchers have employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to explore the neural basis of such appetites. The images suggest that when somebody is pining for a certain fare, brain components in the amygdala, anterior cingulate, orbital frontal cortex, insula, hippocampus, caudate and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex are activated. A network of neural regions may be involved with the emotion, memory and chemosensory stimuli of food yens.